Everyone deserves a fair chance to achieve their full potential. Our nation can and should be a place where everyone enjoys full opportunity.
The American identity is inseparable from the American Dream of full opportunity. James Truslow Adams, in giving name to the American Dream, described it as “that dream of a land...with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement...a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
As individuals committed to social justice, full opportunity should be the standard towards which we strive.
Though we continue to make progress towards full opportunity, “birth and position” still play a major role in where someone is likely to end up in life. At the same time, punitive policies as well as structures crafted to exclude or to put profits ahead of rights are driving us away from full opportunity, preventing too many Americans from attaining “the fullest stature of which they are innately capable.”
As individuals committed to social justice, full opportunity should be the standard towards which we strive. When evaluating what we might say, how we might treat each other, and what policies and candidates we might support, we should begin by asking, “how does this decision affect the ability of every person to achieve his or her full potential?” And until that standard is achieved, we have an obligation to use our voices and our actions to show all Americans that the Dream is yet unfulfilled.